Customer behaviour & Decision making
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Customer Behaviour & Decision Making

This report concentrates on providing a balanced view about the benefits and drawbacks of approaching customers as group segments or as individual consumers, by providing academic underpinning from reputable sources & personal critique.


“...Our DNA is as a consumer company - for that individual customer who's voting thumbs up or thumbs down. That's who we think about. And we think that our job is to take responsibility for the complete user experience. And if it's not up to par, it's our fault, plain and simply. “ Steve Jobs.

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of multiple actors in the customer behaviour and STP process, while observing the impact of key areas, such as: culture, globalisation, current marketing trends, postmodernism and brand affection. This study aims to contribute to the understanding of complexity, regarding market segmentation. The paper discusses the various problems that today’s marketer’s face and focuses on the emerging challenges of the new marketing reality.

This paper mainly deals with the concepts and issues surrounding the matter of consumption. Consumption is a complex social phenomenon, in which people consume goods or services for reasons beyond their basic use.
A consumer society is one in which the entire society is organized around the consumption and display of commodities, through which individuals gain prestige and identity. Given the above context, globalization brings about diverse trends, cultural differentiation and cultural hybridization (Pieterse, 1996).

The term “consumer culture” refers to cultures in which mass consumption fuels the economy and shapes perceptions, values, desires, and personal identity. Consumers do not make their decisions in a blank moment.
Their purchases are highly influenced by cultural, social and psychological factors. Therefore, a customer’s want has to be identified and his expectations must be matched with the other economic and social factors.
The world is moving and changing at a pace that is both positive and negative in a way. Britain is an exceptional example of this ongoing situation. London is now more diverse than any city that has ever existed. Altogether, more than 300 languages are spoken by the people of London, and the city has at least 50 non-indigenous communities with populations of 10,000 or more. (www.statistics.gov.uk)

People are changing from time to time, so do their tastes and preferences. Marketers are always concerned about cultural shifts and keen to discover new products or services that consumers may want. Understanding the ingredients and drivers of global consumer culture is the key to gaining insight regarding consumer behavior. In a diversified country like UK, culture not only influences consumer behavior but also reflects it. Marketing strategies are unlikely to change cultural values, but marketing does influence culture.

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    Customer behaviour & Decision making Customer behaviour & Decision making Document Transcript

    • M.Sc in Marketing Management Customer Behaviour & Decision Making R e p o r t SPYROS LANGKOS ID: 100285557 Tutor: Mrs. Aggeliki Kotsolaki Athens, January 2014 Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 1
    • This report concentrates on providing a balanced view about the benefits and drawbacks of approaching customers as group segments or as individual consumers, by providing academic underpinning from reputable sources & personal critique. Source: Google images – Keyword: Consumer culture “...Our DNA is as a consumer company - for that individual customer who's voting thumbs up or thumbs down. That's who we think about. And we think that our job is to take responsibility for the complete user experience. And if it's not up to par, it's our fault, plain and simply. “ Steve Jobs Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 2
    • 1. Table of Contents 1. Contents..................................................................................3 2. Acknowledgements................................................................4 3. Introduction.............................................................................5 4. Postmodern Social Reality ....................................................7 5. Consumer culture...................................................................9 6. Segmentation, targeting & positioning..............................11 7. Branding................................................................................14 8. Globalisation of Culture.......................................................16 9. Current Marketing Implications...........................................18 10. Conclusions..........................................................................21 11. Appendix...............................................................................23 12. Bibliography.........................................................................25 Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 3
    • 2. Acknowledgements The development and the implementation of this report was made possible by the appreciation of my family and friends, who constantly helped me and offered their support. I also want to thank Andreas - the Mediterranean College Librarian, who was always eager to help me find my references, in times which I was facing some difficulties. Most of all, I would like to thank, our module leader Mrs. Aggeliki Kotsolaki for her continuous guidance, so that I can bring closure to our assignment work. Still, I would like to thank my business supervisor at work, Mrs. Markaki Anastacia, Marketing Director at iNFODATA,, for her patience towards my academic needs and her guidance towards the English Culture. Without the help of these people, my research could not have taken place. Therefore I thank you all again for your contributions to my effort, by stating that you have my appreciation and respect. “ Facing the New World ” Source: Bureau of Labour Statistics, Photo: Reuters – Getty Images Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 4
    • 3. Introduction The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of multiple actors in the customer behaviour and STP process, while observing the impact of key areas, such as: culture, globalisation, current marketing trends, postmodernism and brand affection. This study aims to contribute to the understanding of complexity, regarding market segmentation. The paper discusses the various problems that today’s marketer’s face and focuses on the emerging challenges of the new marketing reality. This paper mainly deals with the concepts and issues surrounding the matter of consumption. Consumption is a complex social phenomenon, in which people consume goods or services for reasons beyond their basic use. A consumer society is one in which the entire society is organized around the consumption and display of commodities, through which individuals gain prestige and identity. Given the above context, globalization brings about diverse trends, cultural differentiation and cultural hybridization (Pieterse, 1996). The term “consumer culture” refers to cultures in which mass consumption fuels the economy and shapes perceptions, values, desires, and personal identity. Consumers do not make their decisions in a blank moment. Their purchases are highly influenced by cultural, social and psychological factors. Therefore, a customer’s want has to be identified and his expectations must be matched with the other economic and social factors. The world is moving and changing at a pace that is both positive and negative in a way. Britain is an exceptional example of this ongoing situation. London is now more diverse than any city that has ever existed. Altogether, more than 300 languages are spoken by the people of London, and the city has at least 50 non-indigenous communities with populations of 10,000 or more. (www.statistics.gov.uk) Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 5
    • People are changing from time to time, so do their tastes and preferences. Marketers are always concerned about cultural shifts and keen to discover new products or services that consumers may want. Understanding the ingredients and drivers of global consumer culture is the key to gaining insight regarding consumer behavior. In a diversified country like UK, culture not only influences consumer behavior but also reflects it. Marketing strategies are unlikely to change cultural values, but marketing does influence culture. Companies nowadays, have powerful technologies for understanding and interacting with customers, yet most still depend on mass media marketing to drive impersonal transactions. In this paper we analyze mass customization and one-to-one marketing. That means making brands subservient to longterm customer relationships. To compete, companies must shift from pushing individual products to building long-term customer relationships In this paper, we consider the way organizations determine the segments in which they need to concentrate their commercial efforts. This process is referred to as market segmentation. The method by which whole markets are subdivided into different segments is referred to as the STP process. STP refers to the three activities that should be undertaken if segmentation is to be successful, these are segmentation, targeting, and positioning. Source: www.contentmarketinginstitute.com (Access12/01/2014) Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 6
    • 4. Postmodern Social Reality Evolution of the English society The supremacy of Western thinking has been challenged throughout the twentieth century and especially with the decline of colonial empires. Postmodern thinkers, also point the fragmentation of experience and the compression of time and space as defining features of the late twentieth century. Most of UK was once dominated by heavy industry, where people were miners, shipbuilders or mill workers and the basis of social life was for these men and women, their relationship with the process of production. Their personal, collective and cultural identities were rooted in the locality around the workplace and in the values of the industry for which they worked. The last thirty years have seen a radical shift in the nature of this relationship. The land which used to house the factories and mines has now been developed for out-of-town shopping areas such as the Metro Centre. To a significant extent, they have become tourists in our own cultures. Sunday no longer means a trip to church or chapel, but rather a visit to the cathedrals of consumerism. Shopping malls have become major sites of leisure activity, the pilgrimage is enough even without the act of buying. Englishmen, no longer conform to the traditions of the old occupational cultures and instead choose a lifestyle. This term, not in itself a new one, was taken by the advertising and designer culture of the 1980s to stand for the individuality and self-expression that was the cornerstone of the free market revolution of that decade. (Stuart Sim, 2001) Source: Google images – Keyword: Globalazation Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 7
    • Keep Calm & Consume mentality The era of mass consumption, with its emphasis on conformity and similarity, has been replaced by an apparently endless choice and variety of consumer goods aimed at specific market segments. Those who participate are not just fashion victims, but actively wish to join in and actively desire the opportunities for self-expression and display which are provided by the choices of the shopping malls. Power has now come to be seen as the capacity to spend in order to find expression for an aspiration lifestyle. (O’Shaughnessy J, 2002) Advertising is of particular interest to postmodernists since many ads are regarded as masterpieces of condensed nuance, parodies of the mightier melodramas of cinema and soap opera. For postmodernism, marketing equalizes everything in the service of consumption. (Venkatesh A. 1999). In the postmodern world the basic dogma is: I shop therefore I am. However we need to reflect on the question of what happens to those who cannot shop and are therefore excluded from the basis of social identity. Source: Google images – Keyword: United Kingdom flag Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 8
    • 5. Consumer Culture Historical Development Just a few centuries ago before the Industrial Revolution consumption patterns were very different from those that exist today. People had limited time and other sources to spare for shopping for goods, particularly those produced far from home with the exception of a very few elite who had long enjoyed higher consumption standards. Then the Industrial Revolution drastically transformed production. Production levels in England soared significantly. In the early 19th century about two-thirds of the increased output was sold to other countries around the world. However, growth through expansion into foreign markets had its limits that required the rise in the domestic consumption. English patterns of consumption were changing and leading to a growing middle class and working class, allowing these classes to become consuming classes. Workers would no longer prefer to work just to earn their traditional weekly income and stop to enjoy more leisure; rather they would prefer longer hours to earn and spend more. The former attitude was not compatible with mass production and mass consumption (Goodwin, Nelson, Ackerman and Weisskopf, 2008). Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 9
    • The concept of Consumption Consumption is a social and cultural process involving cultural signs and symbols beyond an economic, utilitarian process (Bocock, 2005). Within consumer society, objects are used fast and disposed wastefully. Recently this rapid use and disposal has been largely associated with the corruption of values and thus often carries a negative meaning. (Penpece, 2006). Baudrillard (1998) argues that the consumer society needs its objects in order to exist, and in a way, consumer society needs to destroy its objects. Baudrillard (1998) believes consumption is merely an intermediate term between production and destruction. Goodwin, Nelson, Ackerman and Weisskopf (2008), explains how consumer society can only make sense in its social context: “The modern consumer is not an isolated individual making purchases in a vacuum. Rather, we are all participants in a contemporary phenomenon that has been variously called a consumerist culture and a consumer society. To say that some people have consumerist values or attitudes means that they always want to consume more, and that they find meaning and satisfaction in life, to a large extent, through the purchase of new consumer goods.” The ideology of consumerism is not limited to those who can actually afford goods, but surrounds those who can dream about them, who can have access to that dream-world. Bocock defines consumerism as: an active ideology in which the meaning of life is to be found in buying things and prepackaged experiences that spread through modern capitalism. This ideology of consumerism serves both to legitimate capitalism in the daily lives and everyday practices of many people in global world and motivate people to become consumers in fantasy as well as in reality. (Bocock, 2005). Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 10
    • 6. Segmentation, Targeting & Positioning Market Segmentation Process The intricacies involved in market segmentation are said to make it an exacting activity. Griffith and Pol (1994) argue this point on the basis of multiple product applications, greater customer variability, and problems associated with the identification of the key differences between groups of customers. There are two main approaches to segmenting markets: The first adopts the view that the market is considered to consist of customers which are essentially the same, so the task is to identify groups which share particular differences. This is referred to as the breakdown method. The second approach considers a market to consist of customers that are all different, so here the task is to find similarities. This is known as the build-up method. The breakdown approach is perhaps the most established and well recognized and is the main method used for segmenting consumer markets. The build-up approach seeks to move from the individual level where all customers are different, to a more general level of analysis based on the identification of similarities (Freytag and Clarke, 2001). The build-up method is customer oriented as it seeks to determine common customer needs. The aim of both methods is to identify segments in the market where identifiable differences exist between segments (segment heterogeneity) and similarities exist between members within each segment (member homogeneity). Source: Google images – Keyword: target your customers Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 11
    • Philip Kotler suggests that, to be effective and useful to your business, a market segment must have certain characteristics. It must be:  Measurable. You need to know its size, key characteristics, purchasing power, and preferences.  Substantial. The segment of interest must be large enough to be profitably served by you.  Accessible. There is no point in segmenting if you know in advance that there is no practical way to access a segment’s members.  Differentiable. Segments must respond differently to different marketing programs. Kotler gives the example of married and unmarried women’s response to perfumes. If there is no difference in their responses, then there is no effective segmentation.  Actionable. There must be a practical and cost-effective way to attract and serve customers in the segment. Positioning In the "Note on Marketing Strategy" (HBS No. 598-051), positioning is defined as the marketer's effort to identify a unique selling proposition for the product. It is arranging for a product to occupy a clear, distinctive, and attractive position relative to competing products in the minds of target consumers. In finding a desirable positioning, the firm has to consider, for each potential segment, how it would approach serving that group of customers and how it would want to be perceived by those customers. The answers should be based on a thorough understanding of the customer, the competitive environment and the conditions of the market in which it operates. Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 12
    • Targeting the Market A market can be defined as ‘a group of individuals and organizations that have a need or potential need in common that can be satisfied through a specific service offering and have the ability to pay for it. The targeting process is flexible and indeed can be highly creative if a firm puts considerable effort into the process. It is feasible for a firm to focus on quite a broad market or a narrow one offering a few core services or the firm can target a number of segments with a attempt to offer a differentiated service for each which would entail developing a separate marketing mix for each segment. (Miklos Sawary 2005, HBS ). Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 13
    • 7. Branding The concept of brand has spread far beyond consumer marketing where it originated, to enter into management (corporate branding), welfare, politics and the construction of local identities (Olins, 2003; Van Ham, 2001). Like the factory in times of Fordism they present an exemplary embodiment of the prevailing logic of capital (Lash, 2002: 142). This logic consists in an extended recourse to forms of unpaid immaterial labour as a source of surplus value. This way, brands can be understood as a capitalist response to the condition of post-modernity, marked by an intensified mediatization of the social identity and community. (Adam Arvidsson, 2005). Source: Hugo Boss Investors Handbook, Available at www.hugoboss.com (Accessed 13/01/2014) Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 14
    • Brand management In consumer marketing, brands often provide the primary points of differentiation between competitive offerings, and as such they can be critical to the success of companies. Therefore it is important, that the management of brands is approached strategically. However, the lack of an effective dialogue between functions that are disparate in philosophy and do not have a common and compatible use of terminology may be a barrier to strategic management within organizations. ( Wood L., 2000) Brand equity An attempt to define the relationship between customers and brands produced the term ``brand equity'' in the marketing literature. The concept of brand equity has highlighted the importance of having a long-term focus within brand management. Although there have been significant moves by companies to be strategic in the way that brands are managed, a lack of common terminology and philosophy within and between disciplines persists and may hinder communication. Brand equity, like the concepts of brand and added value has proliferated into multiple meanings. The concept is to be defined, both in terms, of the relationship between customer and brand (consumer-oriented definitions), or as something that accrues to the brand owner (company-oriented definitions). (Wood L., 2000) Source: Google images – Keyword: Brand Architecture Available: http://brandconnectix.com Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 15
    • 8. Globalisation of Culture Definition of Culture Culture, as Williams pointed out in 1958, “is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language”. The complications arise because the concept has evolved differently in different European languages and in different disciplines. The word derives from the Latin “colere”, which had various meanings, including to cultivate, protect, inhabit and honor with worship. Williams noted that some of these meanings dropped away although they remain linked through derived nouns such as cult, for honor with worship and colony for inhabit. The Latin noun cultura evolved and its main meaning was cultivation in the sense of husbandry. Much later after it passed into English early in 15th century, it came also to include cultivation of the mind. (Harvey and Stensaker, 2008). Source: Google images – Keyword: Western Lifestyle. (Accessed 13/01/2014) Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 16
    • The Borderless Global Culture Global Culture is a complex and abstract construct that consists of various implicit and explicit elements (Groeschl and Doherty, 2000), that makes it difficult for academics across disciplines to agree on a common description. Over 200 descriptions of culture have been found; however, the most broadly known and used definition in marketing literature is the one specified systematically by Taylor in 1881, who defined culture as a "complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals and law, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society" (Lindridge and Dibb, 2003). Each individual gets exposed a large number of thoughts, values, norms, and cultures and thus learns to differentiate between the good and the bad ones, thereby choosing a certain belief system that keeps on changing with more and more experience (Kim, Lee, Kim and Hunter 2004). In the light of globalization consumers in almost every corner of the globe are increasingly able to eat the same foods, listen to same music, wear the same fashions, watch the same television programs and films, drive the same cars, dine in the same restaurants and stay in the same hotels (Ger and Belk, 1996). The rise of a global culture doesn't mean that consumers share the same tastes or values. Rather, people in different nations, often with conflicting viewpoints, participate in a shared conversation, drawing upon shared symbols. Global culture, is eclectic, timeless, technical, universal and cut-off from the past; unlike national cultures which were particular and time bound (Smith, 1990). Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 17
    • 9. Current Marketing Implications The New Marketing Era The new marketing era means not only revising so far used paradigms or developing new approaches to the relationship between a company and a consumer, but also emergence of challenges unknown in the traditional massmarketing world. Although nowadays marketing seems to be on the threshold of the new era, numerous challenges have already appeared. (Wielki J , 2002) Source: Research about Content Marketing in UK, Direct marketing Association Available: http://www.dma.org.uk , (Accessed13/01/2013) It seems that in the case of most companies, the basic problem is that although they have used various new marketing tools and techniques, haven’t redesigned their marketing processes, in order to adapt them to the new conditions. Since these processes are adjusted to the mass marketing reality it srequire implementing to them to deep changes, otherwise companies will fail to exploit numerous opportunities offered by the electronic environment. Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 18
    • Integrating Marketing Strategies As we explore the dynamics of customerization, it is important to understand that customerization, mass customization, and personalization and even standardization will exist side-by-side. Customerization is not a strategy that replaces traditional mass marketing, but rather it offers additional competitive options in developing an overall marketing strategy. The challenge facing the firm is, therefore, how to design and manage a customerization process along with mass-produced products and services. In some sense, this process is easier for companies that were built from the ground up as e-businesses (e.g., Amazon.com or the new Internet bank Wingspan) as compared to wellestablished companies with considerable investments in legacy systems and processes (e.g., General Motors). (Wind J, 2001). While technology makes the implementation of customerization easier and cheaper, the accompanying strategic and organizational decisions are actually more complex and more expensive. Using database technologies, travelocity. com maintains customer profiles using information provided by the members themselves about the particular destinations and trips of interest to them. Whenever the fares change for any of the selected destinations or trips, travelocity.com sends out a customized e-mail (about 2 million per week) with this information. Seybold and Marshak (1999) indicate that customers welcome this type of customized email promotion, which is one of the most successfulprograms at travelocity.com. Data mining is also critical in helping a company identify the customer segments most receptive to customerization. Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 19
    • Knowledge Exchange with Customers A key challenge for customerization to work effectively, is the recognition of needs to exchange information and knowledge between companies and customers. This requires the company to “open up” some of its internal processes and structures to its customers. It also requires customers to be willing to share their attitudes, preferences, and purchase patterns with the company on an ongoing basis. (Rangaswamy A., 2001) Source: Digital Marketing Research – company factbook. Available: http://www.eclipse.net.uk/ (Accessed 4/01/2014) Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 20
    • 10. Conclusions It seems that for the time being opinions that marketing has already entered the new era are obviously mature. Although it can be commonly observed that, relatively low number of marketers perceive specificity of the new medium and the whole opportunities it provides, while the majority of them follows stereotypical mass marketing approaches. Instead of utilization of these new tools and techniques, for building long-term relationships with customers, which is undoubtedly difficult and arduous process, they prefer to use them for interruptive marketing, by bombarding clients more heavily (Onlinre & Ofline). This is very short-sighted policy and undoubtedly this is not the right way to achieve success in the new reality, e-reality. Only those of them, who will understand peculiarity of the new business environment and redesign their marketing process can succeed. (Janusz Wielki, 2002) Source: Using Segmentation to Create “Winning” Brand Strategies. Available: http://www.prophet.com/downloads/webcasts/Segmentation.pdf (Accessed 9/01//2014). Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 21
    • Cultivating Customers Not long ago, companies looking to get a message out to a large population had only one real option: blanket a huge swath of customers simultaneously, mostly using one-way mass communication. Information about customers consisted primarily of aggregate sales statistics augmented by marketing research data. There was little, if any, direct communication between individual customers and the firm. Today, companies have a host of options at their disposal, making such mass marketing far too crude. The exhibit “Building Relationships” shows where many companies are headed, and all must inevitably go if they hope to remain competitive. The key distinction between a traditional and a customer-cultivating company is that one is organized to push products and brands whereas the other is designed to serve customers and customer segments. This strategy may be more challenging for firms whose distribution channels own or control customer information, as is the case for many packaged-goods companies. But more and more firms now have access to the rich data they need to make a customer-cultivating strategy work. (Gaurav Bhalla, 2009). Source: Google images – Keyword: McDonalds in Saudi Arabia Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 22
    • 11. Appendices A] NEW INTERACTIVE MARKETING MODEL Source: Janusz Wielki, Marketing in eWorld Era: Opportunities, Challenges and Dilemmas, 15th Bled Electronic Commerce Conference, eReality: Constructing the eEconomy, Bled, Slovenia, June 17 - 19, 2002. (Accessed 10/01/2014) B] CUSTOMER VALUE SEGMENTATION Source: Andrew Pierce, Prophet Senior Partner. Using Segmentation to Create “Winning” Brand Strategies. October 18, 2005. (Accessed 9/01//2014). http://www.prophet.com/downloads/webcasts/Segmentation.pdf Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 23
    • C] Transforming Cultures – world population per consumption level Source: Worldwatch Institute, 2010. www.worldwatch.org (Accessed 6/01/2014) D] VALS FRAMEWORK Source: University of Minnesota Duluth. VALS Framework http://www.d.umn.edu/~rvaidyan/mktg4731/VALSFramework2002-09.pdf (Accessed 8/01/2014) Customer Behavior & Decision Making | Report 24
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